I am not comfortable speaking publicly, so I don’t.
I can be forced to, when teaching. Otherwise, I don’t.
Its not for want of things to say, but for the strong realization that most people aren’t interested. People like to hear themselves talk. And for the most part, my experience as an educated, white, CIS, liberal lady is boring. No one cares what I think about stuff, because what I think about stuff is ultimately not interesting and often, not needed. Moreover, in *most* circumstances, my lived experience gives me little to no credit… the world is full of over educated white ladies who are vocal with their opinions.
I don’t share a lot of this content on social because I think its lazy. I don’t want to be acused of slactivism- sharing a few posts about #BLM and feeling like “I’ve done my part”. To be far, this isn’t just with things like these protests… For the most part, I don’t chime in on people’s FB pages with the message “Happy Birthday!”, which would be identical to hundreds of other messages that person recieves that day. If I like you like that, I will message you privately about your birthday.
But, I am feeling a certain kind of way right now. Chicago (where I live) is the scene of massive protests (and looting) following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis. Like everyone else in the US, my social media feed is predominantly about the protests, #BLM, #sayhername, etc. A common theme running through a lot of what I am seeing is “silence is complicity”. And I wonder if me not sharing the sentiment is viewed by my friends as complicity.
But, then, I see other posts that say, it is okay for white people to STFU and listen for a minute. To think… to ponder. That not everything needs to be a 1500 word think piece, foisted into the ether for comment… so that I can be told I’m brave or something.
If my life were different, I could take real action. I could head downtown and protest. And yell. Link arms with people being dragged away. Break up fights. I could get arrested. But that is not my life… I have a family that needs me. Also, I can’t afford bail right now. And while I imagine I could handle tear gas and rubber bullets, I don’t want to end up in a coffin because I caught a stray bullet not intended for me. Or because I stepped on a weird piece of concrete, twisted my ankle, fell, and was trampled. This is privileged- George Floyd’s family needed him every bit as mine needs me; Breonna’s family grieves her just as hard as mine would grieve me.
I never used to think of myself as a deeply empathetic person, but I am starting to wonder if that is why I con’t watch videos of people dying. Terrorists beheading hostages, police shootings, etc. I have never watched another person die (aside from my mom in hospice). I am horrified enough by the descriptions and the reports. I don’t want to be in the Loop while people are being beaten around me. It is absolutely a place of privelge.
I don’t share stuff online because it’s a weak measure.
I don’t protest in person because I am afraid of being caught up in a situaton that I can’t control.
So I read. And I donate. I listen and I think. I become outraged. I hope that its enough right now.